« PreviousContinue »
There wandered a noble Moslem boy
Thro' the scene of beauty in breathless joy ;
He gazed where the stately city rose
Like a pageant of clouds in its red repose ;
He turn'd where birds thro' the gorgeous gloom
Of the woods went glancing on starry plume;
He track'd the brink of the shining lake,
By the tall canes feathered in tuft and brake,
Till the path he chose, in its mazes wound
To the very heart of the holy ground.
And there lay the water, as if enshrin'd
In a rocky urn from the sun and wind,
Bearing the hues of the grove on high,
Far down thro' its dark still purity.
The flood beyond, to the fiery west
Spread out like a metal-mirror's breast,
But that lone bay, in its dimness deep,
Seem'd made for the swimmer's joyous leap,
For the stag athirst from the noontide chase,
For all free things of the wild-wood's race.
Like a falcon's glance on the wide blue sky,
Was the kindling flash of the boy's glad eye,
Like a sea-bird's flight to the foaming wave,
From the shadowy bank was the bound he gave ;
Dashing the spray-drops, cold and white,
O'er the glossy leaves in his young delight,
And bowing his locks to the waters clear-
Alas! he dreamt not that fate was near.
His mother look'd from her tent the while,
O'er heaven and earth with a quiet smile :
She, on her way unto Mecca's fane,
Had stay'd the march of her pilgrim-train,
Calmly to linger a few brief hours,
In the Bramin city's glorious bowers;
For the pomp of the forest, the wave's bright fall,
The red gold of sunset-she lov'd them all.
The moon rose clear in the splendour given
To the deep-blue night of an Indian heaven;
The boy from the high-arch'd woods came back--
Oh! what had he met in his lonely track?
The serpent's glance, thro' the long reeds bright?'
The arrowy spring of the tiger's might?
No!-yet as one by a conflict worn,
With his graceful hair all soil'd and torn,
And a gloom on the lids of his darken'd eye,
And a gash on his bosom-he came to die!
He look'd for the face to his young heart sweet,
And found it, and sank at his mother's feet.
Speak to me !-whence doth the swift blood run? What hath befall'n thee, my child, my son?" The mist of death on his brow lay pale, But his voice just linger'd to breathe the tale, Murmuring faintly of wrongs and scorn, And wounds from the children of Brahma born:
This was the doom for a Moslem found
With foot profane on their holy ground,
This was for sullying the pure waves free
Unto them alone-'twas their God's decree.
A change came o'er his wandering look--
The mother shriek'd not then, nor shook:
Breathless she knelt in her son's young blood,
Rending her mantle to staunch its flood;
But it rush'd like a river which none may stay,
Bearing a flower to the deep away.
That which our love to the earth would chain,
Fearfully striving with Heaven in vain,
That which fades from us, while yet we hold,
Clasp'd to our bosoms, its mortal mould,
Was fleeting before her, afar and fast;
One moment--the soul from the face had pass'd!
Are there no words for that common wo?
--Ask of the thousands, its depth that know!
The boy had breathed, in his dreaming rest,
Like a low-voiced dove, on her gentle breast;
He had stood, when she sorrow'd, beside her knee,
Painfully stilling his quick heart's glee ;
He had kiss'd from her cheek the widow's tears,
With the loving lip of his infant years;
He had smil'd o'er her path like a bright spring-day— Now in his blood on the earth he lay!
Murder'd!-Alas! and we love so well
In a world where anguish like this can dwell!
She bow'd down mutely o'er her dead-
They that stood round her watch'd in dread ;
They watch'd-she knew not they were by-
Her soul sat veil'd in its agony.
On the silent lip she press'd no kiss,
Too stern was the grasp of her pangs
She shed no tear as her face bent low,
O'er the shining hair of the lifeless brow;